Gloss vs Matte Projector Screen

Coby McKinley Profile image

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Updated December 7, 2022

If you’re shopping for a premium projector, you need a quality projection surface for an authentic theater experience. In addition, choosing the perfect screen relies on having the right finish and color for the surface. If you know what material is a projector screen made of, you can use one of those screens. But, if you end up using projector screen paint, deciding between a gloss vs matte projector screen finish is paramount for a dedicated home theater room. In addition, unless you have a light-controlled room, you’ll immediately notice the difference between a flat or matte projector paint and glossy paint.


  • A glossy screen is a terrible choice for a dedicated theater space. The shiny surface will create a bright spot and make the picture unwatchable.
  • A matte surface is much better for a bright or digital projector image. It produces a perfectly color-balanced picture.
  • A matte display is your best choice whether you use a white projector screen or HD projector screen paint.

Comparing Matte and Glossy Finishes on a Projector Screen Surface

That said, you’ll need to decide between a projector screen or projector paint for your home movie theater. Projectors output high amounts of light. A professional projection screen uses a special coating to reflect bright pictures to the audience. While we colloquially call it the “silver screen,” quality screens often have a grey or black matte finish.

Insider Tip

If you want a slight sheen to your painted projection wall, consider mixing in a little semi-gloss paint with your matte paint.

Due to the brightness of most home theater projectors, like 4K and 1080p projectors, most experts do not recommend a glossy finish on your projection surface. Screens with a gloss finish produce a hot spot that washes out color saturation and your black level.


Never use a dry-erase board as a projector screen. The glare from the projector will make the image unwatchable for the audience.

In contrast, a matte screen is ideal for reproducing colorful images and deeper blacks than glossy surfaces. A grey or white screen with a flat finish also makes a nice picture, assuming a dark viewing area. If you deal with a loss of brightness from ambient light, consider reading our guide to rear panel projector screens vs. front screens for light control.

Picture Quality

Glossy displays are terrible for getting a usable image from your projector. With a shiny white paint or screen, you’ll experience hot-spotting, which is glare from the bright projector light. This washes out the colors and gives you a dull image. Stick with a matte panel or paint if you want the best picture quality for your movie nights.

Ambient Light Control

With a glossy white wall or screen, every beam of ambient light will create a new reflection in the image. Flat paint or screen will maximize the results of even weaker projectors and cut down on glare from windows and cracks in the door.

Viewing Angles

The viewing angle of your screen determines how far viewers can sit from the center screen before it negatively impacts your image. With a glossy screen, a wide viewing angle only introduces more glare.


What About An Accent Wall?

Applying matte paint to an accent wall is an excellent choice for using a portable projector for impromptu movie showings. Painted screens use a neutral color, so they should fit in with the rest of your home decor.

How to Paint a Projector Screen Wall

First, wash the entire wall and smooth it with sandpaper. Then, do another wall wash to clear away any drywall or dust. Then, apply multiple coats of matte projector screen paint, the darker the better. Lastly, apply a single coat of projector screen finish.

What is the Best Color?

If your projector has enough lumens, consider using a black or grey screen to maximize your color vibrance and dynamic range.

STAT: According to PMA Research, the ultra-high lumen professional projectors market grew by 59% during 2019. (source)

Coby McKinley Profile image